RUSH KARTING SERIES SET TO LAUNCH; INDUSTRY LEADERS, RACERS, KARTERS WEIGH IN ON CONCEPT
By Doug Kennedy
February 27, 2020
(Pulaski, PA)...For the last 13 seasons, Vicki Emig and Mike Leone have been committed to developing and promoting crate engine auto racing throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Canada with five different divisions of race cars on dirt and four on asphalt. On December 9, 2019, it was announced that RUSH had now added the RUSH Karting Series to be under the umbrella of the Pace Performance RUSH Racing Series together with Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC.
The Series features the RUSH Kart sealed engine (212 cc) that's available at Precise Racing Products (Sarver, Pa.), which is currently running an introductory promotion (https://www.rushkarting.com//Precise-Engine-Trade-In-Promotion-2020.pdf). The RUSH Kart sealed engine is also available at Kart Works (Sugar Grove, Pa). The Series also features spec Hoosier slick racing tires with no tire treatment permitted, and RUSH 91 spec fuel. The complete 2020 rules are available on the www.rushkarting.com website.
The RUSH Karting Series will debut in 2020 and have four different classes; one, Amateur/Rookie for 5-7 year olds with no experience; two, a Jr-1 for kids 8-11; three, a Jr-2 for kids 12-15; and four, an Adult Flat class for those 16 and older. All the classes will compete for separate Weekly Series Championships that will be better than $8,500. An Adult Cage class will be added for the 2021 season.
Tracks participating in the program include Blanket Hill Speedway (Kittanning, Pa.), Lockhart Motorsports Park (Seneca, Pa.), Naugle Speedway (Coraopolis, Pa.), Pittsfield Championship Karting Association (Pittsfield, Pa.), Shaffer Speedway (Aliquippa, Pa.) and Stateline Speedway Karts (Busti, NY).
Scott Gobrecht is the owner of BAPS Motor Speedway (formerly Susquehanna Speedway) in York Haven, Pa,, part owner of Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa., promoter of Racing Xtravaganza motorsports show in York, Pa, promoter of the Central PA Legend Cars, the owner of two Sprint Car teams (Trey Starks and Dylan Norris), and a partner with his brother Brian and father Bob in Golf Cart Services located in New Oxford, Pa.
Scott has some very distinct thoughts on the RUSH Karting Series. “The biggest thing that jumped out at me was the immediate response from the tracks,” Gobrecht said. “There’s lots of positives surrounding the series, especially the cost containment aspects which the Series has put into place. There’s so much now with the prepping of the tires and that is being covered by RUSH with the Hoosier tire.”
“My brothers (Brian and the late Kevin) and I got started in Karting so we followed it over the years,” Gobrecht continued. “It’s saddening to see the decline in car counts as the costs have increased in karting. “RUSH's plan and vision should definitely help, they have always surrounded themselves with great people and sponsors and I wish them the very best.”
Jay Groves’ son, Nolan, who is 16, competes in the RUSH Sprint Car Series. Groves, who owns Kart Works with his son and father-in-law Jay Anderson, has a highly successful Karting company near Stateline Speedway. He and his father-in-law have been a great help with the process of putting together the rules package for RUSH. Groves is one of those who would like to see the RUSH Karting program succeed.
“Honestly, we’ve been very supportive of Vicki and Mike for this series,” Groves said. “This will be good for anyone who has a second Kart or people who just want to get into affordable racing. We’ve had a good handful of drivers out of our shop who are planning to participate in the Series and a lot of others with inquiries as to how to become involved with the Series.”
Sylvan Easler has been involved with racing for many years, and particularly Karting in the western Pa. area. Easler of Butler, Pa. is the owner of Alternative Power Sources, a longtime RUSH sponsor and contributor at "Manufacturers Nights". “I think it’s a great idea for Karting,” Easler said. “I like the Series and the potential it has. It going to put everyone on a fair and even playing field.”
He and his two sons, Ben and Aaron, raced Karts for a number of years in Pennsylvania and Ohio before moving on to the RUSH Pro Stocks for several years. “We won a lot of (Kart) races and championships, and raced a lot of tracks,” Easler said. “Karting is not for everybody, but I think this Series is going to take off, at least I sure hope it does. Karting needs it for an easier way to race and be competitive.”
"Hoosier Tire is excited to partner with the RUSH Karting Series that will feature spec Hoosier slick racing tires," stated Hoosier Racing Tire's Oval Kart Product Manager Chad Wright. "Vicki and Mike have always been successful with all of their endeavors with the RUSH Racing Series, and we can't wait to watch their success in Karting. It's been a great partnership throughout the years with their big car programs and we're really looking forward to joining their efforts in the world of Karting!"
Mike Pegher, Jr., who spent several years competing in the RUSH Late Model division before moving up to Super Late Models in recent years, is another who would like to see his very young daughter, Mila, eventually race a RUSH Kart someday. “It's going to be a great deal for the kids," expressed the Cranberry Township, Pa. driver. "It will give them a chance to be part of all of RUSH's exciting programs, win a RUSH Championship, jacket, and prize money!”
“If I'm going to get beat I'd would rather lose to someone with equal equipment," added Pegher. "Everything that Vicki has done in her big car programs allows people to go racing in the class they want to race but can’t possibly afford at the next level, RUSH now opens up that opportunity in Karting.”
Another who has a daughter who will be returning to Karts is Jim Zarin. The 49-year-old former Late Model standout now has a RUSH Late Model for his son Logan and also was the presenting sponsor of the "$500 Club". Lacey Zarin, who is 14, will be returning to Kart racing in the new RUSH Karting series.
“I figured this would be a good opportunity to get her back into racing,” Zarin said. Logan also raced a Kart for seven years before stepping up to the RUSH Late Model division in 2018. At one point, Zarin had three Karts. In addition to his two kids, Zarin also had a Kart for a friend, Austin Cooper.
“Even though people resist change, I think Vicki is doing good for the people,” Zarin continued. “I’ll support her in every way I can because people don’t realize how beneficial her programs are to saving racing around this area.”
Butch Lambert of Valencia, Pa. started his racing career in Stocks before moving up to RUSH Late Models, and now races on a more limited basis today. His 14-year-old daughter will be part of RUSH with the new Karting Series. Madi actually got her start last year in a Kart so this will be her second season. “She got a few races in last year," Lambert said. “I don’t think it matters to her as long as she gets to drive. She’s not flipping any of the bills, so she’ll drive anything. Without a doubt Vicki has proved that she is hands down one of the best promoters throughout the region,” Lambert proudly said.
Fifty-three-year-old Bob Schwartzmiller of Robinson Township, Pa. likes what RUSH brings to the table: consistency on the rules, insurance for the drivers, the point funds, and minimal travel. Schwartzmiller competes in the RUSH Late Model Series and says that if the new Kart Series is anything like the Late Models, then things should be great.
His 12-year-old son, Cale, will be doing the driving in the family owned Kart. Overall, Cale is in his sixth year of racing. “I think it’s going to be good keeping the costs down, but I'll probably take some time to get going because sometimes people resist change,” said Schwartzmiller, who is the owner of SGM (Swartzmiller Ground Maintenance). "I also like the sealed motor, but the biggest thing is the elimination of the tire prep."
Thirty-nine year old Clyde Prince of Worthington, Pa., is credited with purchasing the very first RUSH Kart sealed engine. His 13-year-old son, Race, will be behind the wheel of the RUSH Kart for 2020. “It’s worth a shot because it’s close to home and the playing field should be even with regards to the motors," stated Prince. "I’m looking forward to it and I hope the kid is as well. This will be his first year of racing, but I’ll be there to lend the support he needs on a weekly basis.”
Adam Brooks of Brookfield, Ohio, also purchased a new RUSH Kart sealed motor for the Series. At 24, Brooks has been involved in racing by helping out the Blackshears with their E-Mods and most recently the RUSH Sprint Cars.
“I think it’s a great idea especially for someone like me who hasn’t done any racing before,” Brooks said. “I think we will have a chance to succeed even though we don’t have any experience in the Kart. I’ve been around Vicki and Mike over the last couple of years and this seemed like a great deal and I wanted to become part of it.”
Perhaps one of the more interesting drivers is 40-year-old Michael Campbell, a.k.a. Trouble McConnells, of Butler, Pa. Campbell will be a full-blown participant this season with the new RUSH Karting Series. The moniker Trouble McConnells is his handle on his Facebook page.
Campbell began his racing career in a go-Kart in the 1990s before moving to Motocross. Eventually, a series of knee injuries forced him back into a Kart. “I think it’s going to be an improvement for Karting since Karting has been diminishing over the last few years and I think this will bring it back up,” Campbell said of the new RUSH Karting Series. "They (RUSH) have improved racing by giving more competition for the drivers. You’re saving so much money because of the series and that’s what I want people to understand.”
Kyle Layton quit Karting because of all the costs that were involved. “This is great what RUSH has come up with," stated Layton. "It’s going to be rough in the beginning with all the people against it but once they get sick of spending thousands each year they may reconsider it. We just got out of Karting because the money spent was ridiculous. We spent $1,300 just in tires last year and then adding in all the preps for the tires was ridiculous. As long as you have the right tires and preps, it was a flat foot check out. That’s why we had to carry six set of tires and that wasn’t even enough.”
“I believe this is a really good thing because of the motor package and the tires and getting away from the prep which will bring drivers back into it," said the 39-year-old resident of Erie, Pa, who has an 18-month-old daughter, Kyla. Layton hopes that when she’s ready to race, the RUSH Karting program will be up and running and heading in the right direction.
Back in 2007, Layton was one of the first Crate Late Model drivers when the division was developed under Emig and Leone. After that, he spent seven years or so racing a Kart. “I wish this series would have started years ago. Good luck to the RUSH team and I hope it works out for them.”